* Notes *
The Ballad of Baby Doe opened at Berkeley Opera last Saturday. Jonathan Khuner's production, with sets and projections from Jeremy Knight, is sweetly simple. The video art included some rather silly red curtains that would fall after the many scenes, and there seemed to be a glitch near the end, but otherwise they were effective. The use of Leda and the Swan as a painting in one of the scenes was an interesting choice.
The orchestra, again lead by Jonathan Khuner, had some roughness, the brass in particular had some intonation problems. The opera features quite a lot of singers, including a chorus and some ensembles. Everyone did quite well and was generally together. Jillian Khuner had some lovely, delicate moments as Baby Doe, but she does have quite a lot of vibrato, and can sound shrill. Torlef Borsting was robust as Horace Tabor, though not terribly nuanced until the last scene. Lisa Houston was convincing as Augusta Tabor, the coldness, bitterness, and even tenderness of the character came through.
As for the music itself, Douglas Moore did compose some pretty, likable music. However, his ensembles were a bit too transparent, basically he would have one person sing a line, then another, yet another, and then have the quartet sing all together. Overall, the effect was droll, and the performance very cute. One must commend Berkeley Opera for having innovative programming.
* Tattling *
The audience was fairly quiet, but one did hear some talking. Lots of photographs were taken, and mobile phones, while silent, were clearly in use during the performance.